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The Magnolia


Star of the Season … the Magnolia

Of all flowering trees, deciduous magnolias rank amongst the aristocrats.

In flower now with huge goblet-shaped blooms that burst from furry grey buds on bare branches. This is their charm; no leaves, just grey bubs and branches and glowing flowers. There are some incredibly beautiful hybrids available in your local nursery. Choose one now while they are flowering. Those pictured her are available at various specialist nurseries and available online.

The Jury magnolias are the work of gifted plant breeder, Mark Jury. Mark’s father Felix began hybridising with magnolias in the early 1960’s. Fabulous and fleshy, gorgeous and glowing at winter’s end they make a huge impact.


Three of his best are:


Magnolia ‘Vulcan’ has flowers 20cms diameter.


Magnolia ‘Felix’ is hot pink with flowers 24cm diameter.


Magnolia ‘Black Tulip’ has huge black-purple goblet-shaped flowers.


Magnolia Caerhays Belle was raised at Caerhays Castle in Cornwall, with huge saucer-shaped blush-pink flowers, that flower early in the season. It makes a magnificent feature tree.


Magnolia ‘San Jose’ (Saucer Magnolia) produces masses of flowers from a very young age. The tulip-shaped flowers are a light pink at the base of the petals and white on the inside. It forms a large shrub or small tree with wide spreading branches.



Deciduous magnolias need a sunny spot with shelter in summer from fierce afternoon sun and hot winds, so a northern or eastern aspect is best. To encourage a fast take-off, work composted cow manure through the soil to a spade’s depth before planting. After planting create a saucer-shaped depression around the tree to funnel water directly into the root zone. A thick layer of mulch will keep the roots cool and moist; just keep it clear of the trunk. Magnolias have shallow roots so they are unlikely to disturb undergroundservices, pipes or pathways. It is essential to feed them regularly (every two months) after planting to avoid them ‘sulking’. You could use Black Marvel (Richgro) or Kahoona (Neutrog). Once established, they are resilient trees and require regular water.

Deciduous magnolias benefit from a nutritious mulch twice a year, over the root system and out to the drip-line. Apply after flowering in early spring and again in autumn.


Magnolia Mulch Recipe (revised)

3 bags cow manure (don’t substitute chicken manure)

1 cup Blood and bone

1 cup Sulphate of Potash

1 cup Dolomite

3 scoops Kahoona (Neutrog)


Read more about growing magnolias here: